As tradition wants it, Corel released its update of Painter sometime in August. The new update brings new brushes, a refreshed interface and some other new features, like a colour wheel that you can move to anywhere on your canvas.
Painter 2019 is not a big upgrade, but it has its merits. It starts with better support for multi-core processors and CPUs that use AVX2 extensions, as well as extensive code optimisations, all working together to make Painter much more responsive than it’s ever been.
The interface has been improved, but not in a way that old-time users won’t know their way anymore. The new darker default theme is nicer on the eyes, especially on one of the latest iMacs with a 500nit screen.
There are over 650 redesigned icons that serve to make the application easier on the eyes, simpler to understand and more efficient to use, but to be quite honest, I didn’t find them all that earth shocking – I don’t think the app was that hard to navigate before in the first place and people clearly succeeded in creating art with previous versions as well.
One improvement in that area is really important: you can use the keyboard arrow keys to adjust a slider by 1% or in tandem with the Command key to move it in 10% increments.
Painter 2019 has 36 new brushes and one entirely new brush category, the Stamps brushes. While you can paint brushstrokes comprised of stamps, they’re meant to be applied in single clicks or taps. The other new brushes are found in categories such as Selections, Airbrushes, Blenders, Dab Stencils, Glazing, Real Watercolor, Real Wet Oil, Sargent, and Thick Paint.
New brushes are always nice to have, but with what was already there we were hard pressed to choose, which means the new brushes are, well, yet even more choice. There are also new patterns that can quickly deliver realism to concept art and 3D painting, ranging from flames and hazard tape to grassy paths, moss, and more.
Choosing and interacting with colours is more efficient in Painter 2019 with better grabbers in the Color Wheel that make it easier to see and set colours in the Hue Ring and Saturation/Value Triangle. The Temporal Colors palette is now the Temporal Colors Selector, and you can pin and move it around anywhere on the canvas.
A colour swatch displays the current colour, making it easy to find complementary colours quickly by positioning the palette over colours already in your painting. It’s easy to resize and move, and you can toggle it on or off with a keyboard shortcut. What’s more, when you reopen the Temporal Colors palette, it displays in the last position you had it open.
In short, Painter 2019 continues to set the standard, but it’s increasingly becoming more difficult for Corel to really innovate. Sometimes a product can’t be improved further without overhauling it completely. I think Painter has reached this stage.